Te Awaatu Channel Marine Reserve in Doubtful Sound is the smallest marine reserve in Fiordland at 93 ha.

Te Awaatu Channel (The Gut) marine reserve located in Doubtful Sound, was established in 1993, and along with the Piopiotahi (Milford Sound) Marine Reserve, became the first marine reserve in Fiordland.

Te Awaatu or Te Awa-O-Tu translates as ‘the channel of Tu’. In Maori legend the mythical ancestor Tu-Te-Raki-whanoa carved out the fiords and lakes with his giant digging stick or ko, with one foot on Secretary Island (Ka-Tu-Waewae-O-Tu) at the entrance to Doubtful Sound and the other foot on Resolution Island (Mauikatau) at the entrance to Tamatea/Dusky Sound.

It is sandwiched between Bauza and Secretary Islands and has a high tidal flow. The reserve is much shallower than the surrounding deep-water basin habitats, which are the deepest in Fiordland, reaching depths of about 420 m.

There are significant rock wall and deep reef habitats, and the reserve is known for its sea pens and other suspension feeders, including the red and black corals, zooanthids and lampshells. Monitoring has shown more and larger rock lobsters exist in the reserve than outside it.

A five year study into the effects of divers on red coral in the marine reserve found no major changes to the coral populations there. Continued good diver practice and care will ensure that this does not change in the future.

View a map of Te Awaatu Channel (The Gut) Marine Reserve

Know before you go

Anchoring is prohibited throughout the majority of the reserve.

There are protection measures in place to help minimise the potential impact of vessel activity on the Doubtful Sound bottlenose dolphin population - see Doubtful Sound marine mammal code of management

Back to top